Orissa government on Monday declared ‘use of kids’ in anti-Posco agitation as illegal after redeploying force close to the dharna site at Gobindpur village, the entry point to Dhinkia area.

Armed police force which had been withdrawn from near the dharna site last week, was again deployed as the State government decided to resume the land acquisition work for the Rs. 52,000 crore project soon.

“We have asked the agitators to clear the road to enable police and officials to move into Dhinkia area.

Preventing government officials from performing their duties is unlawful,” Jagatsinghpur S.P Devadutta Singh told PTI adding protestors should respect law of the land.

Chief Secretary B. K. Patnaik said, “It is illegal to use children in the agitation.”

Jagatsinghpur MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai, on the other hand, justified children’s participation as “normal and legal”. “No one has forced children to take part. As their parents are agitating, they come on their own,” the MP said.

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) however, dubbed the State government’s move as “undemocratic” and “vulgar display of force”. “Our people are democratically protesting at the Govindpur village border protesting the forceful land acquisition for POSCO,” PPSS president Abhay Sahu said.

Holding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for redeployment of force near the dharna site, the PPSS leader appealed to all to come to the rescue of the unarmed agitators.

While hundreds of armed police personnel were deployed near the dharna site, a separate police platoon (30 personnel) had entered into the village through the forest route to demolish betel vines, Mr. Sahu alleged.

Meanwhile, tension resurfaced over POSCO land acquisition with redeployment of force near the dharna site.

The police through public announcement system asked the agitators to vacate the place and stop using children as “shield“.